What makes something funny?

Trinity Batts | September 27, 2019

What makes something funny? This can be a very difficult question to answer. Not many people know what makes them laugh. There have been a lot of theories over time of what is considered “funny” but we have come to the conclusion that it is different for everyone.

Over time we have come up with many theories as to why we laugh at jokes. One theory called the “Superiority Theory,” which was traced back from the time of Plato and Aristotle, says that we laugh at misfortune and shortcomings that make us feel better than other people. An example of that theory would be laughing when your rival football team loses the championship. Another theory called the “Relief Theory,” proposed by Victor Raskin and Salvatore Attardo, says that we laugh to relieve stress and to let out pent up energy or to let out sexual and violent desires. An example would be laughing at a dirty joke. Later on in the 18th century the “Incongruity Theory” came about. This theory says that we laugh at jokes because we are surprised. One example would be laughing at jokes with unexpected punchlines. The last and most recent theory created by Dr. Peter McGraw is the “Bengin Violation Theory.” This theory says that we laugh because a joke is risky but not too bad. One example would be laughing at a dirty joke that is not too dirty.

The other day I was at my school’s volleyball tournament. I was sitting at a small lunch table in a big cafeteria with my volleyball team. Everyone was going around showing their favorite tik toks. One girl leaned over to me and said, “Trinity, look at this one. It is hilarious.” I leaned over to watch the tik tok on her cracked phone screen. It was a video of two people having a conversation and then at the end of the tik tok one of the guys slaps the other guy for no reason. She was laughing so hard, so I decided to ask her why she considered the video to be so funny. “It’s funny because you don’t expect the guy to slap him at the end.” she replied.

“Laughter is an instant vacation.” -Milton Berle. Everyone loves to laugh, but we all laugh for different reasons. No matter what you’re laughing at, keep on laughing.


Photo by Trinity Batts